Friday, February 18, 2011

book time: A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear

I confess...I'm still reading slower than I normally do....but still for good reasons.

As I've noted before, I enjoy using my role as a Harper Collins reviewer (free books!!) to explore books I might not pick up on my own.  I don't tend to "do" much in the mystery/detective realm, especially the serials.  I read some as a teen but I guess I got snobby about them somewhere along the lines.   I did enjoy this return to the realm.  It was mind-candy with a little bit of added bonus in that it did have some compelling undercurrents.

A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear is the eighth in a series of mystery stories featuring a woman detective.  I haven't read any of the prior books but that didn't pose much of a problem beyond a little trouble with names that regulars would likely recognize.  This novel takes place between WWI and WWII and is clearly also a transition point for Maisie who has lost a mentor, gained a suitor, and is moving ahead in a solo career.  She is asked by assorted British personnel to keep an eye on a college that they worry may have goings-on that threaten the national interests and becomes more deeply involved when a murder occurs during her stay.  There is also a second mystery involving a friend and some general development on the personal front.

The college matters were fairly interesting.  I was more drawn to the portrayal of the underlying climate, including the uncertainty of how to react to the advance of Hitler and his teachings.  The book suggests this threat was largely overlooked and hints at how the teachings had appeal for the generation that followed WWI.  The personal story and the second mystery were a bit more lost on me.  I suspect they might hold more interest more a real Maisie follower.

I'll go with 3 of 5 stars....again, I'm a tough rater and that's a "good, but not great" from me and partly a reflection of the genre rather than the novel itself.

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